Hello everyone! Sorry for not writing last week - it's amazing how crazy things STILL are on our "day off". But we're blessed to be busy so we just keep moving! Sister Helsten actually reminds me of Dad sometimes. I don't think she knows the meaning of the word stop. You're sick? You've got 5 minutes to go to the bathroom and we're out the door! You're sad? Looks like we've got to talk so some people on the streets! You're tired? Do a few jumping jacks! ha ha, that's what life is like here. But it's good, because we have no time to think of ourselves. And I think that makes the work much easier to love.I didn't get to write about it last week, but we had a baptism! Tamara, funniest little thing in the whole world. Her story is awesome - Sister Helsten found her when she was serving here a few months ago but she didn't have a phone number and wouldn't give her address, because of some sort of bad situation with her ex husband. Long, sad story. They taught her a few times and gave her a book of Mormon, and then she fell off the map. UNTIL we got here, and a member from our branch magically found her again. All the time in between, she had been reading and was totally ready when we asked her to be baptized. She is so humble and sweet and ready to listen and change and give up anything she has (which isn't much in the first place). I just love her. We took a picture with her the first night we met, and she said it was the first picture she's taken in 20 years. When we gave her a copy, she told us it was the first picture she's ever owned. She's the type of person that can only be described through the stories I have with her. She is 50, looks 35, and acts 15. She calls herself a hooligan all the time and she always calls me a lady. Says that I am going to be a leader someday (or a news broadcaster. SO me, right? I must have changed since being here, because these people see me so much different than I've ever considered myself.) Anyway, she was baptized and will soon be receiving a calling to play the piano for the branch! Which will be a huge blessing, because she'll be the first person here with musical abilities for a long time. She's trying to give e voice lessons, and she gave me a book full of Russian folk songs. Can't wait to bust that out after the mission :)
I don't really know what else to say. I feel like I'm changing, but I don't know how to really describe it. It's good though, I'm happier and healthier than I have been in a long time. I'm so grateful for the people that I've been meeting here and falling in love with. I'm grateful for the culture and the food and the land. I'm grateful for the experiences that tear me down and then build me up again. And I'm grateful for every one of you back home supporting me. I have definitely felt some serious prayer power coming from that side of the world this week. Thank you for remembering me and loving me! I love you all so much and appreciate you more than you know.
Thank you for everything!